Yemeni Guantanamo inmates transferred to Saudi Arabia

Release of four detainees comes despite President-elect Donald Trump’s demand for a freeze on transfers.

Four Yemenis who were held by the United States at its Guantanamo Bay military prison have landed in Saudi Arabia.

The release of the four on Thursday came after the White House rejected President-elect Donald Trump’s demand for a freeze on transfers. 

Family members met the detainees in tearful reunions at the royal airport in the Saudi capital Riyadh. 

The transfers are part of a final push by President Barack Obama to shrink the inmate population there before leaving office on January 20. 

A spokesman in the Saudi Interior Ministry confirmed to the families that the ministry will facilitate their visitations while they are being rehabilitated in the Mohammed bin Nayef Centre for Counselling and Care, located outside of Riyadh.

Saudi state media released the names of the four Yemenis as Mohammed Rajab Sadiq Abu Ghanim, Salim Ahmad Hadi, Abdullah Yahia Yousf al-Shabli and Mohammed Ali Abdullah Bwazir. 

Saudi Arabia received the four prisoners for resettlement after a request by the Yemeni President Abd-Rabbu Mansour Hadi to do so.

There are 59 detainees remaining at the controversial detention centre, out of the 240 when Obama took office in 2009.

Only a handful, including the alleged plotters of the September 11, 2001 attacks, have started moving through the military tribunals,.

Many of the others are in legal limbo: not charged but deemed too dangerous to release.

READ MORE: White House expects more Guantanamo transfers

Roughly 20 are expected to be transferred before Trump is sworn in later this month.

Saudi Arabia received detainees most recently in April, when the Obama administration transferred nine to the country, including an alleged bodyguard of Osama Bin Laden.

All nine detainees were linked to al-Qaeda. None of the nine men had been charged and all but one had been cleared for release from the US base in Cuba since at least 2010. 

On Tuesday, Trump said on Twitter “There should be no further releases from Gitmo. These are extremely dangerous people and should not be allowed back onto the battlefield.”

He also vowed to “load [Guantanamo] up with some bad dudes” once he is in the White House.

Trump’s declaration is the latest in a series of public disputes between Obama and the outspoken Republican president-elect, who has jettisoned the notion that there is “one president at a time”.

Obama came to office vowing to shutter the facility, saying detention without trial did not reflect American values.

But he has run up against political and legal hurdles, Pentagon foot-dragging and stubborn Republican opposition in Congress.

Source: Al Jazeera, News Agencies